For Felix Baumgartner, the 43-year-old Austrian skydiver who became the first person to break the sound barrier in free fall when he dived 24 miles from a balloon at the edge of space over New Mexico, watched by 40 TV networks in 50 countries.

Although Mr Baumgartner had the commercial sponsorship of the Red Bull drinks maker for his estimated $30 million extreme project, his bravery and skill are what stand out from his audacious record attempt.